If you’ve ever researched your family history, you may have been excited by what you found. Why not turn that excitement, and everything that you learned, into a genealogy blog?
It’s the perfect way to share and preserve family history. And you may even be surprised to meet new relatives when they find your blog.
How to Create a Genealogy Blog
Creating a genealogy blog seems like a big job, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll break it down into manageable steps that will have you up and running in no time.
Genealogy or family tree blogs all have certain things in common, but you may have a unique approach.
Do you have a well-known family member? Is your family unusually large or wide-reaching? Have you found an ancestor who did something extraordinary, even though we may not know their name?
These are just some of the distinctive «hooks» that could make your family history blog stand out. But you don’t need a hook; you just need research and a platform to publish it. That’s what I’m going to help you with today.
Domain Name and Web Hosting
To create your genealogy blog, you’ll need a domain name and website hosting space.
Why not just set up an account on ancestry.com? After all, it’s the most popular genealogy site in the world, and their trees do look nice.
Well, there are a couple of compelling reasons to set up your own blog.
First, it’s going to be a lot less expensive. Ancestry.com is going to run from $20 to $45 every month. That can add up fast. Contrast that to GreenGeeks hosting pricing, and you’ll see the savings.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, your own blog is your own blog. It’s your real estate on the internet. You control how it looks, what it contains, the conversations – everything. You can change it, move it, expand it, or update it to suit your specific needs.
Finally, you can use your own domain name. And if you sign up with GreenGeeks, the domain won’t cost you a penny for the first year. Even more savings.
I recommend GreenGeeks not only for the speedy platform and low cost, but also because they have incredible technical support staff. Smart, caring, and eager to help.
And, of course, you’d expect a company called GreenGeeks to be environmentally responsible. No disappointment there. GreenGeeks is driven by renewable energy.
You can get started at GreenGeeks right now and have your blog up and running today.
WordPress Is the Blog Platform of Choice
One of every three websites you see is running on WordPress. It’s established, loaded with features and easy to install and use. You can install it on a GreenGeeks account in a couple of minutes. It’s really that easy.
One of the reasons I like WordPress for a genealogy blog specifically is the ability to comment on posts and pages. When your family and relatives visit, they can leave their thoughts and spark conversations and memories, which can lead to more information for your family tree!
And if you want to keep it private for family members only, all it requires is a quick install of a plugin.
Once WordPress is installed, you can even install a plugin that will help create your family tree. Keep reading to see how easy it is.
WordPress Plugins and Themes for a Genealogy Blog
There are a few plugins that can help organize your blog. Plugins are programs that you install in WordPress to do things WordPress doesn’t do by default.
For a genealogy blog, a must-have plugin is a family tree maker.
TreePress – Easy Family Trees & Ancestor Profiles creates ancestor and descendent charts vertically or horizontally, whichever best fits your blog. Displays up to 200 family members, but you can add an unlimited amount. Use data like gender, date of birth and death, links, and you can even add images. Each family member gets an individual page for more information.
Genealogical Tree lets you add up to five generations of your family tree. Add life events such as birth, death, burial information, adoption, engagement, marriage, divorce, and more.
GedShow is, as the name suggests, a plugin for uploading and displaying GEDCOM (.ged) files. GEDCOM was developed by the LDS church, which makes sense, as the Mormons put a lot of stock in genealogy. The format has become the standard for genealogy files, but it does have its limitations.
It’s all text. So for example, images can only be referenced by links to other locations. But if you’ve already entered a lot of family data into a GEDCOM file, this plugin could be a time-saver.
WordPress themes can be found suited to many different types of blogs. Family trees or genealogy blogs, however, aren’t one of those types. No one has yet purpose-built a genealogy theme (there’s an opportunity for you WordPress theme developers!).
So that being said, any WordPress theme that catches your eye will work for your genealogy blog.
You may want to stick with a simple theme. By that, I mean simple in appearance. Though the simpler the appearance, the simpler the theme will be to customize and use. That’s a bonus if you’re new to WordPress or prefer to spend your time doing something other than wrestling themes.
Once you’ve found what you like, installing a new theme is easy.
How to Spread the Word
Usually, this is where I talk about the best ways to promote and market your new blog. But a genealogy blog doesn’t really serve the same purpose a typical site may serve. You’re certainly not going to buy advertising to promote your blog. Unless you have famous, or infamous, relatives, it’s unlikely to be of much interest to the general public.
Most traditional online promotional efforts won’t be useful.
With that in mind, it’s better to concentrate on how to let your extended family know about the website. This leads us to the only logical option, Facebook. You know what they say, everyone is on Facebook.
The problem with Facebook is all of your friends or family don’t see every one of your posts. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s how Facebook works.
So what you want to do is mention your most Facebook-active relatives when you post about your blog. Ask them to post and mention other family members. That’s the best way to get the attention of the largest number of people.
Then, of course, when they get to the blog, they can comment and participate. On the blog, everyone will be able to join in the conversations, and no one will be left out.
A Tree Without Roots
Mark Twain said, «Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics, and your opponents will do it for you.» That’s funny (and true), but for the non-politicians among us, we have to do it ourselves.
It can be a lot of work, but it’s rewarding work. And knowledge should be shared, so a genealogy blog is more than just work or entertainment; it’s a teaching tool.
If you’ve put off starting a family blog, I hope this article has convinced you to get started today.
And it’s history. Pure and simple. Make your place in it!
Author: Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips is a web hosting industry veteran, helping people make the most of their web presence since 1995.